Before the Mongols. Uigurs, Kyrgyz, Khitan and Jurchens

In previous articles of the cycle ( this and this ) we examined the dramatic and instructive history of the Tang Empire.

By the way, both according to the statistics of reading up these publications, and according to the individual soul cries that I had, I noticed that it was not easy for many to break through the names of Chinese dynasties, and even more so – through Chinese proper names. Well, my apologies. I am aware that my audience is not at all abundant in Chinese or specialist sinologists, and even honestly tried to reduce difficult to understand words to a minimum. But it was completely without it. I can’t do anything, all of these people were actually called that, and over measure to avoid calling them by name would be much worse for the readability of the text. In any case, this article will be easier.

The influence of Tang on the main theme of the cycle – “what was happening in the Great Steppe in the pre-Mongol period” – is difficult to underestimate. In the history of the region, the Tobasi dynasty on the Chinese throne inherited very strongly, first, even before the founding of the empire, fairly having a hand in creating the nomadic empire of the Turks, and then independently burying it and subjugating the Steppe to itself. But at the same time, it would be wrong to reduce the entire history of the then steppe to the Tang Empire alone.

Thus, in the history of Tang, the Uighurs were repeatedly mentioned. Moreover, almost always – in the context “and here the next emperor called for the help of the Uighurs, who plunged from the heart the enemies of the empire.” From this, one might get the impression that the Uygurs were just sort of hanging out on the periphery of demand by the true steppe vassals of Tan, not particularly remarkable in other matters. But in reality this was not the case.

The Uigurs were descended from one of the many ancient Dylinian clans who took part in the revolt of the Turkic-Ashin against the Jujan (proto-Mongol) kaganate. On the main fronts of that confrontation, they, however, were not noted, for the most part distinguished themselves in the expansion of Turkic influence in the northern taiga.

Having adopted the ancient Türkic Orhon-Yenisei language and a number of cultural peculiarities (thus, the Uyghur cheburek is the most archaic form of this wonderful dish), the Uygurs nevertheless were very sensitive to their own political autonomy. This caused friction with the central government of the Turkic Kaganate and eventually led to the mass slaughter of the Uyghur elders, which was organized by the Turks in the 606th year. With this, the Turks expected to intimidate and pacify obstinate subjects, but it turned out exactly the opposite – those in anger slammed the door of the Kaganate, and since then fierce blood feud has formed between the Uighurs and Ashina.

She was taken advantage of by the Chinese emperors, finding in the Uighurs faithful allies against the Turks. The Uigur detachments were actively noted both in the initial conquest of the lands of Ashina, and especially in the final destruction of the already revived Eastern Turkic Kaganate, after which the Ashina were carved to the root.

After these events, the Uighurs discovered themselves, albeit a vassal Tang empire, but still by no means the rulers of the northeast of the Great Steppe, with all its culturally similar, but ethnically hopelessly motley population.

In which the Uygur kagans should be given their due – they obviously sought to consolidate on the lands they inherited for a long time, and in no case wanted to become another standard steppe kaganat, following the predetermined path from the overthrow of the hegemon’s past to the collapse under the blows of one of the vassals. And to prevent this, it was necessary to give subjects a unifying factor. And to them in the eighth century AD everywhere and without alternative was religion.

The good old Steppe Tengriism did not fit this role for the same reason that a century later at the other end of Eurasia, Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavich did not burn out with the reform of East Slavic paganism under the unifying idea of ​​the state. Because, how not cool, but such beliefs are under a primarily tribal base. And in the central headquarters, they can glorify Tengri, the All-Fathers, as much as they like. They can issue a mandate to the Kagans to manage the entire steppe. But in individual clans, they will still stubbornly worship not him, but the spirits of their own ancestors, separated from the ancestors of other clans, wandering next door. Association, in fact, in fact no work. Therefore, in the first instance, the Uygur kagans looked at Buddhism – however, rather sluggishly,

READ ALSO:  Ronaldo in line? Zinedine Zidane returned to Real Madrid

Turning to a religion of unification was of particular relevance when it was promised to the Uighurs that they would be given complete independence in exchange for help in suppressing the insurrection of the northern border troops. Now, the statement “we are all vassals of Emperor Tang” to the temporary ersatz of the unifying idea no longer attracted, and it was necessary to look for something else.

And found. During the march through the Chinese territory (where the Uygurs, of course, regularly smashed the rebels, but caused no less damage because they were robbed, as if they did not), the kagan happened to stumble upon the Manichaean priests who had taken refuge in China . And having communicated with them, the kagan decided that now he was a Manichaean, and all the rest of his subjects should also be recorded in Manichaean.

L.N. Gumilyov, who terribly disliked syncretic Gnosticism in any guises, be it Manicheans, Cathars, Ismailis or Bogomils, asserted that it was here that the Uighurs signed their sentence to their state.

The author of these lines, in general, neither the Gnostics nor the syncretists also particularly favored. However, with Lev Nikolayevich is inclined to argue.

The main problem of Manichaeism among the Uigurs was that they did not really stick to Manichaeism. In this regard, the Kagans ran ahead of the locomotive – since they needed a unifying idea, maybe it was theoretically clear, but among a wide range of their subjects, both the Uighurs themselves and other steppe dwellers, this need was not yet suffered. Therefore, the Kagan initiative was not met among the people.

So it is possible, of course, to theoretically criticize the Kagans, that by taking Manichaeism as a unifying and religious factor, similar to all religions at once and therefore easily integrating into any of them, they tried to find a simple solution to a complex problem — and those are rarely viable. . It can be assumed, and perhaps it’s true that with such introductory at some stage, the merger would go backwards, replaced by a blurring of the basic settings before complete depersonalization. That could well have happened. But the point is that simply did not have time.

At the same time, they do not belong to the Manicheans, but they had a certain curious influence on the steppe. Due to the presence of a number of gastronomic restrictions and prescriptions in the Manichia (eating less meat, leaning more on vegetables), the Uighurs began to master the elements of a settled agricultural lifestyle. Manichaeism is gone. But these elements remain.

Here, I believe, it makes sense to make a small digression and explain. I often mention Gumilev in the articles of this series, and almost always these references are related to the criticism of one or other of his statements. Because of this, it may seem that I have some kind of fad to overthrow Gumilev. But it is not. Yes, I do not agree with the passionary theory of ethnogenesis. There is certainly cyclicality in the development of cultures, but the data of paleoclimatology, already obtained strongly after the publication of the “Ethnogenesis and Biosphere of the Earth”, indicate that it all works very differently. But it would be wrong to deny the merits of Gumilev in the systematization of previously scattered information about the history of the Great Steppe – they, beyond any doubt, deserve great respect. The only thing to perceive the history of the steppe “according to Gumilyov” it should still be with some degree of criticality and cross-checks. Since there was only one sinner behind Lev Nikolayevich: from time to time a researcher fell asleep in him, but the son of Gumilev Sr. and Akhmatova woke up, with all the literary consequences. And such moments should be filtered.
Beginning with the second half of the 8th century and ending with the first half of the 9th, the Uigurs underwent all the powers at the stage of formation. That is, through internecine wars, which, through the efforts of the conservative part of the elders, at some point also became religious – the Tengrians against the Manichaeans.

It is not known what all this would lead to in the future under any other external conditions, since at the moment of the greatest disorder in the Uygur Khaganate other Turkic descendants of the Dinlins, the Yenisei Kyrgyz, descended from the north. The Uigurs resisted their invasion for about twenty years, but the moment of the first strike, which predetermined the outcome of the confrontation, was painfully unsuccessful. The Uygur kaganat died, the Uygurs themselves migrated to Xinjiang, where their descendants live to this day.

READ ALSO:  Media: EU countries tried to block sanctions against Russia

In the official historiography of modern Kyrgyzstan, the period of the Kyrgyz kaganate is, for understandable reasons, taken to exalt in every possible way. No joke – they overthrew the former hegemon of the steppe and took its place. In a very short time, they walked around the vast expanses of steppe and, by circumstantial evidence, on one of the hikes forced the Magyars to migrate from the Urals to Hungary.

Here are just a few points that make you look at this period somewhat less enthusiastically. And the main one is the life time of the kaganate.

The Kyrgyz kaganat existed from the 840th to the 916th year. Eighty years. After which the ancient Kyrgyz state, without any pressure from the outside, cracked at the seams, breaking up into several small principalities that had no significant influence.

This happens when the status of the hegemon goes to those who were not ready to receive it. The Kyrgyz people of that time, even before a single statehood, did not mature, and then suddenly an empire.

The western part of the steppes to the north of China, from Lake Baikal to the Orkhon, then at some time ceased to be a place where history was forged in the region (by the way, for the first time with the XVII-th century up to BC, that has well, not a joke ). The center of political gravity has shifted to the east.

There, a power vacuum, formed after the collapse of the Kyrgyz kaganate and the fall of the Tang empire, began to fill the Syanbi (proto-Mongol) tribe of the Khitan.

The Khitan had migrated from Mongolia to the southeast as a result of the division of the common Syanbian state Tanshihai in the III century. As a result, they had been in Chinese political and cultural orbit for a very long time, about the same as the related Toba tribes that founded the Tang empire. That is, they were still nomadic pastoralists, but nomadic pastoralists already cultivated. Those who, remembering the quotation from Confucius, didn’t pervert it too much. And because they began to build the state not in a typical-steppe, but rather in a mixed style, becoming like the same toba relatives.

In 907, the tribal leader Ye-lu Ambagai overthrew the last Khitan Khan and took his place. It took nine years to strengthen its power and suppress the insurrections inevitable in this case. When the same order was managed, Ambagay made a knight’s move and abolished the khan’s title. Instead, he announced the founding of the Liao Empire under the control of the Ye-liu dynasty, and appointed himself as the first emperor.

During the rule of Ambagay, the Liao empire subjugated the nomads of Mongolia, seized the northern border areas of disintegrating China, and finally conquered the kingdom of Bohai, located on the site of the current environs of Harbin and the Russian Primorsky Territory. The last for further history is most interesting, so we describe it in more detail.

The kingdom of Bohai was the state of the Tungus-Manchurian Mohe ethnicity, and the culture and way of life was a cross between Japan and Korea. Which is probably not too surprising, since it was geographically located between them. Mohe were mainly farmers, and almost no cattle were kept — only horses, of which they used as a force on arable land. And – for the war. In military affairs, the mohee were notable for their horse archers – which is not such a frequent phenomenon for sedentary farmers, but, given the proximity of the steppe, is entirely explicable.

After the conquest of Bohai by the Khitan, the mohe did not resign themselves, and they continued the guerrilla, and from time to time decided on open uprisings. The uprisings had no success, but the Khitans drew blood fairly. And because in the chronicles of the state Liao mohe not called by name. Only by a contemptuous nickname, given as a special mockery in their own language, and meaning “slaves.” This nickname is “Jurchen”.

By the way, your humble servant happened to visit the island of Petrov, where there used to be a Mohe village. The guide, who accompanied our tour group, told the legend that after the death of the village in the hearth of each destroyed house, the survivors planted a yew tree, as a symbol – so that it would grow and become a bow for death to the invaders. I don’t know if this is true, but the yews stand there, built like a ruler. And when you pass between them, you involuntarily lower your voice – as if you are walking in the temple. Or a graveyard.
Liao, meanwhile, was strengthening. The emperors of the Ye-lu dynasty managed to reproduce in a smaller area what the Tang emperors ideally tried to achieve – the peaceful and more or less harmonious coexistence of the Stepnyak northern part with the Chinese southern one.

READ ALSO:  Arrow Physics: Archer Paradox, Slow Motion

The Song dynasty that united southern China tried to conquer the Liao — but in the end was forced to retreat and pay tribute.

To the west, the Khatans did not lead expansion, preferring to send trade caravans. Then, by the way, they got to Russia. We have called the Kitan “China” – and their country, respectively, China. Celestial, which is correct, if anything, is called Zhongguo, in principle, does not carry the correctness of the name abroad. But at least we have her nicknamed in honor of the people, even if not that. And not consumer, for exported goods, “Silica” (silk) or “Tea” (porcelain).

One way or another, the Liao Empire was strong and fully developed. But at a certain moment she relaxed and missed the blow from where, from where, generally speaking, it was just to be expected.

In 1113, under the leadership of the leader Aguda, the Jurchen again revolted. And it turned out most unpleasant thing. The Khitan troops outnumbered the rebels by the total number, but they were tight with coordination. The Jurchen partisan, consisting solely of cavalry, was united and over-mobile. Because of this, the army of Aguda successfully beat the Khitan in parts.

In addition, the fact that the Khitan emperor argued was stupid, allowing the rear units to arm themselves, who is in that much. And he received as a result of an inordinate amount of light cavalry without arms. And the Jurchen army was more balanced, and there was a small but very angry iron fist of cavalry soldiers – which by nature, other things being equal, always and everywhere smeared light cavalry on the ground, even with the latter’s multiple numerical superiority. If you were catching up, of course – but this problem did not stand here, because the Khitans were in the role of the defenders.

Of course, the Song Empire also intervened on the side of the rebels. But even from the already suffering defeat of Liao, she promptly received the teeth, after which she supported the Jurchens only morally.

In the wake of success, Aguda’s appetites increased, and he announced the creation of his own Golden Empire, in Chinese, Jin. He justified this choice of the name by playing words in Chinese:

” Iron (Liao) rusts, but gold (jin) retains its luster .”

But in Sung this aphorism was not appreciated – the last thing they needed was to change one barbaric empire to another, and therefore, soon after the destruction of the Iron Empire, they got involved in a conflict with the victorious Golden Empire.

And what do you think the Jurchen shock cavalry did with the predominantly Chinese infantry army?

The series of wars ended for Sung with significant territorial losses – in fact, almost the entire cradle of Chinese civilization in the Yellow River valley. The losses would be even bigger, but the Chinese leaped patriotism and they began to give back. I had to make peace.

However, there remained some understatement in this. The rulers of Song almost immediately thought about revenge – especially since the most fertile and settled lands remained on its territory, the very thing for the new mobilization. Or, if you look at the question from the Jurchens, that tidbit for conquest. Therefore, the periodic conflicts of Song and Jin became further in the order of things. Without much, at the same time, the advantage in any direction. Approximately half a century before at the other end of the continent, near Byzantium and Iran. So someone suggested a third, like the Romans with the Persians were Arabs, is not it?

The Jurchens, I must give them their due, the danger of overlooking such a third one was well understood. Understand and where he can descend. Therefore, any khan from the northern steppes, who rushed to unite the tribes under his command, was either hunted down and executed with indicative cruelty, or, if it was not possible to reach him, was quietly poisoned.

This scheme failed only once. And on the boy – the real boy, whose grandfather was executed under this “program”, the father was poisoned, and he, who was deprived of everything, was forced out to disappear to the junk land. Who knew that this would happen …

This boy was a nirun from the Kiyat-Bordzhigin clan, and his name was Temudzhin. But that’s another story. So, which by definition does not fit into the ” Before the Mongols” cycle .

Especially for you Alihanrin Alihan!

For those who want to support my project:

Bitcoin: bc1qw94hw46llhmx7gym3vl0evft6sts3g8ktf23ep

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 14 other subscribers

Read also:

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


There is no god but Allah(God). Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah(God).